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For years, hydroquinone has been the go-to for skin lightening ingredients. But there’s been a call for alternatives, because of hydroquinone’s instability in heat and light and potential for ochronosis or skin darkening (particularly in those with darker skin tones) (Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology).
Skin lightening cream, elure Advanced Brightening Cream ($150, amazon.com) contains their proprietary ingredient Melanozyme, which is an ingredient that’s said to work by decomposing melanin (Dermatology Times).
The product is a two-part system that involves the Melanozyme and an activator containing 0.012% hydrogen peroxide in order to be in the “activated” or working state (Skin & Allergy News). While hydrogen peroxide can be pro-oxidant and certainly doesn’t have benefits, it’s in a very small proportion in this formulation.
Melanozyme is Lignin Peroxidase (LIP)
Melanozyme is the trademarked name for a certain variety of the enzyme lignin peroxidase. Lignin Peroxidase (LIP) is derived from certain types of fungi. Initially, it was used for whitening wood pulp to make it acceptable for use in paper, but was then investigated by companies as an alternative skin-lightening ingredient.
So far, several patents claim that the enzyme is able to seek out eumelanin, one of the types of melanin found in the skin, and decompose it. It reportedly does this without having an effect on melanin biosynthesis or stopping tyrosinase. Tests on skin-bleaching fungi have confirmed that it’s possible for these enzymes to break down eumelanin instead of merely halting the melanin production process, but there are limited studies on this method of skin lightening overall (Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering).
The Research on Melanozyme
The patents filed for LIP that are the foundations for Melanozyme conducted experiments to investigate the effectiveness, the composition, and mechanism of action. In vivo tests were performed to back the patents and researchers found that LIP worked well as a skin-lightening agent.
In randomized, placebo-controlled, split-face, double-blind study that the company performed, on Melanozyme versus 2% hydroquinone, researchers found that a LIP-based cream worked better and faster than one containing hydroquinone (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology). In fact, researchers stated that while the Melanozyme showed significant skin lightening by day 31, the placebo and hydroquinone had no statistically significant difference when measured instrumentally.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any independent, peer-reviewed studies to back this up. Without several repeats of these results, it’s too soon to say that this is truly proven better than hydroquinone.
The main ingredient in elure Advanced Brightening Cream is proprietary ingredient Melanozyme. This is actually a patented enzyme that comes from fungi, which the company claims decomposes melanin. Preliminary industry-sponsored studies are positive, but to back these claims, independent, peer-reviewed studies should be done.